I've become increasingly convinced that a simple way (perhaps overly so) of defining the difference between Republicans and Democrats is their attitude toward freedom of choice.
Democrats are willing, and feel obligated, to provide citizens with information that enables them to make informed choices. Democrats are willing to permit and encourage such freedom of choice.
Republicans, on the other hand, provide citizens with misinformation, or disinformation, to prevent the exercise of such choice.
Democrats pass legislation to enable and support free choice. Republicans vote their opposition to such legislation, hence the label the party of "no."
This distinction plays out perfectly in the latest anti-abortion smears and reactions to them (see following post in this blog for more on that).
Here is a comment from a reader of Donna Gratehouse's cross-post to Blog for Arizona.
Arizona women deserve to have Cathi Herrod’s big stinkin’ nose out of our business. Don’t want an abortion? Don’t have one.
The Republican version is: "Want an abortion? Can't have one."
In my thinking, the difference maps onto democracy vs. dictatorship. Hence the name "Democrats" applied to the political party that really stands for freedom and dignity.